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Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) Blog by Mark Crace

 

BISThe Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) works to advance U.S. national security, foreign policy, and economic objectives by ensuring an effective export control and treaty compliance system while promoting continued U.S. strategic technology leadership.  BIS’ primary concern is the security of the United States.  

 

One of the biggest challenges with the mission of BIS is to secure technology while providing open communications with the public and the industrial community affected.  In taking on this challenge, BIS has adopted a more open government policy by developing an effective outreach program to keep the public informed of current and upcoming export control rules and initiatives.  This program works to keep information flowing that is of importance to the community.  The Assistant Secretary for Export Administration conducts weekly teleconferences updating the public in the Export Control Reform (ECR) Initiative and fields ECR questions from the public.  BIS also conducts monthly webinars on various ECR topics.  These calls both educated the regulated community on the reform rules, and helped elicit useful stakeholder feedback.   

 

In FY 2014, BIS reached 16,860 stakeholders through 180 different types of events, including 2,952 people who attended 33 domestic export control seminars conducted in 11 states and the District of Columbia.  These seminars provided guidance to new and experienced exporters regarding the EAR, changes in export policy, and licensing procedures, as well as encryption and technical data issues.  BIS also participates as a speaker or with organized information booths at several dozen additional events hosted by other organizations. 

BIS held its 27th annual Update Conference on Export Controls and Policy between July 29, 2014 and July 31, 2014 in Washington, D.C.  The conference attracted over 1,100 participants. 

BIS also holds an annual Export Control Forum in California which attracted approximately 200 attendees, many of whom were from the technology community.

 

BIS received more than 37,718 phone and email inquiries each year through its counseling programs at BIS’s Outreach and Educational Services Division in Washington, DC, and at the Western Regional Office in California.  Through these programs BIS provides guidance on regulations, policies, and practices and helps to increase compliance with U.S. export control regulations.

Department of Commerce Environmental Justice Strategy

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Environmental Justice Strategy outlines the specific steps the Department will take to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all individuals by integrating environmental justice into its programs, policies, and activities. In implementing this Strategy, DOC will seek to meaningfully engage with communities and stakeholders.

We are happy to present this year’s progress report, which provides an overview of the Department’s activities relating to Environmental Justice in FY 2014. It is available on the Department’s Open Government website at The Department of Commerce Environmental Justice Strategy Page.

BEA Adds More Open Data to API

Guest Blog produced by: Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA)

BEADevelopers, do you want to bring more detailed economic data to your next app? The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently added several data sets to the application programming interface (API) we launched last year.

The API now provides direct access to the gross domestic product (GDP) underlying detail tables. Those tables contain a wealth of statistics, including how much consumers spend on hundreds of items like furnishings, food and flowers and how much revenue the government takes in and spends.

Other recently added data to the API provide information on:

  • National fixed assets, which include statistics on fixed assets like factory equipment, buildings, intellectual property and durable goods for consumers.
  • U.S. trade and investment relationships with other countries.
  • Economic impact of U.S. industries.
  • Activities of multinational enterprises.

The new additions give you the ability to create an even richer, customized economic dashboard of your own.

The new data sets join BEA’s GDP and related national economic statistics and regional economic statistics, which have been available via API since the service launched in May 2013. In addition to expanding the amount of data available on the API, BEA published an updated User Guide, making it easier for developers to start using the service.

BEA’s API allows developers to build a service to search, display, analyze, retrieve, or view BEA statistics. For example, you can create a “mashup” that combines BEA data with other government or private data sources to create new services or give your users a different perspective on their communities. Or you can design a tool that gives your users new ways to visualize economic data.

The API includes methods for retrieving subsets of BEA statistical data and the meta-data that describes it using HTTP requests. It delivers data in two industry-standard formats: XML (Extensible Markup Language) and JSON (JavaScript Object Notation).

To use the API, you need to register first. Full documentation is available in the updated API User Guide.

The BEA’s API is just one way BEA is supporting open data. Visit BEA’s Open Data site for a complete listing of BEA’s data sets in a machine readable JSON format, along with access to downloadable data sets and other data tools.

Open Government Blog Post

Guest Blog produced by: Census Bureau’s Open Government Senior Leader

At the Census Bureau, we collect data— you may have evenparticipated in some of our collection efforts, like the decennial census, the American Community Survey or the Current Population Survey. But did you know that data dissemination is an equally important responsibility? Right now, we are working on several initiatives aimed to make our data more accessible than ever before. Everyone from survey respondents, researchers, developers and members of the public rely on Census Bureau statistics, and we must meet all of their needs.

One way that many Americans interact with Census Bureau data is through our website. This year, we redesigned Census.gov to make it easier for you to find what you need. We found that our customers wanted to browse information by topic, so we updated the site’s navigational features. We also released new interactive data tools, like the revised Population Clock and Census Flows Mapper. One particularly exciting change is the improved search function — users now can search population, poverty and income for a desired location and get statistics within the search results. Whether customers are looking for quick facts or detailed information for their communities, we have a tool for them to find the information they need. And even more improvements are on the way.

The improved search function is one example of a feature that is possible because of our Open API — a set of programming instructions and standards for accessing data. We launched the API in 2012 to give developers access to high-value data sets from our surveys and other key economic indicators, and we are continually adding new data sets.

 The API delivers easy access to our data and allows developers to combine it with other sources to create tools that benefit the public. For example, My Congressional District, a tool on census.gov, provides users with statistics about congressional districts by pulling data from the Census Bureau’s API. We are continuing to solicit feedback from developers to improve the API and often attend local meet ups and hold internal codeathons to generate ideas.

As the authoritative source for legal and statistical geographic boundaries in the U.S, our Topologically Integrated Geographic Encoding and Referencing (TIGER) suite of products provides another example of how we are innovating to disseminate data. TIGER is a digital geographic database that automates the mapping and related geographic activities required to support the Census Bureau’s census and survey programs.  We recently launched TIGERweb, a set of APIs, services and a Web application for disseminating and visualizing geospatial data. TIGERweb allows our customers to easily use Web map services directly in their applications and contains scores of detailed geographic layer data.

Through these and other innovative tools, the Census Bureau continues to lead the way in Open Government goals and objectives. We have also held recent webcasts that allow the public to learn first-hand how and why we collect data. We are committed to developing more and better ways to make data accessible to our diverse range of customers, anytime, anywhere, and on any device.

Department of Commerce Open Government Plan Version 3.0 Published

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Guest blog post by Dr. Catrina Purvis, Chief Privacy Officer and Director of Open Government

On January 21, 2009, President Obama issued the first executive memorandum of his Administration, entitled “Transparency and Open Government.”  This memorandum established three guiding principles for the conduct of government activities.  Government should be transparent.  Government should be participatory.  Government should be collaborative.

The Department of Commerce (the Department) is fully committed to these principles, and we are pleased to present the 2014 Department of Commerce Open Government Plan, version 3.0 (the Plan).  The Plan is updated annually, and this release represents its fifth publication.  It builds on the Department’s long history of information dissemination and the adoption of new tools and technology to facilitate a more transparent and accessible agency.  The Department will continue to encourage and strive for increased participation and collaboration among its employees, with other government agencies and the American people. 

This year’s Plan provides an overview of the Department’s new 2014-2018 Strategic Plan, describes Department program and functional areas which are critical to Open Government, features three “flagship” Open Government initiatives, and highlights Open Government happenings of ongoing initiatives and activities across the Department’s Bureaus and Operating Units (BOUs). It is available on the Department’s Open Government website at www.commerce.gov/open.

We invite the American public to join in as the Department moves toward becoming a more open and effective provider of government services and information. Please feel free to provide feedback by submitting comments to open@doc.gov.

Open Government Plan Version 2.5

As of April 30, 2013, the Department of Commerce has updated the Open Government plan. If you would like to see the older version you can find it in the archive section.

In response to the White House's Open Government Directive, Commerce originally created and released a Department-wide plan for Open Government on April 7, 2010. It has been updated with the most resent version on April 30, 2013.

As outlined in the Directive itself, our Open Government Plan will serve as a "public roadmap that details how [Commerce] will incorporate the principles of the president’s January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government into the core mission objectives of [the Department]."

Comments Encouraged

Throughout the process, Commerce's Open Government Team took ideas and suggestions from employees and the public via email (open@doc.gov).

Department of Commerce Environmental Justice Strategy

The Department of Commerce (DOC) Environmental Justice Strategy outlines the specific steps the Department will take to ensure the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all individuals by integrating environmental justice into its programs, policies, and activities. In implementing this Strategy, DOC will seek to meaningfully engage with communities and stakeholders.

We are happy to present this year’s progress report, which provides an overview of the Department’s activities relating to Environmental Justice in FY 2014 in the table below.

The Department of Commerce's Paperwork Reduction Plans

In May 2012, the President issued Executive Order 13610, which requires Federal agencies to continually scrutinize rules and requirements on the books to make sure they are still necessary, streamlined and up-to-date.  He emphasized that agencies should give special consideration to reducing burdens on small businesses and should prioritize “initiatives that will produce significant quantifiable monetary savings or significant quantifiable reductions in paperwork burdens.” Following up on that directive, last June the Administration launched an aggressive paperwork burden reduction effort to eliminate unnecessary burdens on the American people and businesses. Agencies across the Administration heeded the President’s call and submitted paperwork reduction plans. Today, Commerce is posting these paperwork reduction plans, along with our retrospective review update pursuant to Executive Order 13563.

Commerce Publishes Open Government Plan Version 2.0

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In response to the White House's Open Government Directive, Commerce created and released a Department-wide plan for Open Government on April 7, 2010.  Commerce has previously published two versions, 1.0 and 1.5 of the plan that can be found in the plan archive. Commerce is continually working to improve transparency, participation and collaboration. Many of these efforts are identified in the Commerce Open Government Plan Version 2.0 released April 5, 2012.

As outlined in the Directive itself, our Open Government Plan will serve as a "public roadmap that details how [Commerce] will incorporate the principles of the president’s January 21, 2009, Memorandum on Transparency and Open Government into the core mission objectives of [the Department]."

In version 2.0 Commerce talks about 43 programs and initiatives. Previously these programs and initiatives were listed in a single table with the descriptions following laid out under the operating unit responsible for completion. In the new plan, the single table has been separated into tables of initiatives by operating unit with status and estimate/actual completion dates. The operating units have also been added into the table of contents so you can link directly to an operating unit to find its initiatives.

Comments Encouraged

Throughout the process, Commerce's Open Government Team has taken ideas and suggestions from employees and the public. Many of the changes in Commerce initiatives and programs have been generated through this open partnership. As Commerce moves forward in the support of American businesses, it is vital that this communication of ideas continues to grow.  To help Commerce keep the conversation fluid, email your ideas and suggestion to open@doc.gov.


Department of Commerce Customer Service Plan

The U.S. Department of Commerce (Commerce) creates the conditions for economic growth and opportunity by promoting innovation, entrepreneurship, competitiveness, and stewardship informed by world-class scientific research and information.

Commerce places a premium on effectively and efficiently delivering customer services.  Customer Service is one of the six major themes of the Department's Strategic Plan and Balanced Scorecard, which the Secretary uses to track each bureau's progress towards key programmatic and management goals on a quarterly basis.  Accordingly, Commerce includes customer service goals and objectives in the performance plan for every employee throughout the Department.

As required by Executive Order 13571 on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service, Commerce has developed a plan that identifies specific actions and initiatives to further advance its customer service delivery over the next year, focusing on key service areas and technology-driven initiatives.  This plan outlines the key elements of these initiatives.

Our first initiative is Commerce Connect, a collaborative partnership of all Commerce bureaus to streamline public access, through a one-stop model, to over 70 Department-wide programs that support U.S. businesses.  Our other initiatives represent best practices of individual bureaus.

The International Trade Administration is upgrading the content and navigability of its web site in support of the National Export Initiative.  The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is pursuing several projects to provide ready access to its backlog and pendency metrics, to accelerate its examination of patents for environmentally-friendly and conversation technologies, and to make bulk patent and trademark data readily available to the public, free of charge, on Google.

The Economic Development Administration will implement customer surveys on its upgraded grant application process, launch a microsite to highlight best practices in regional innovation, and facilitate the exchange of innovative ideas and perspectives in economic development.     The Bureau of Economic Analysis has upgraded the features and functionality of its web site and will survey users for their feedback.  The U.S. Census Bureau has implemented a search tool that enables readily searchable and exportable access to detailed economic data.  Lastly, the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration is working to preserve and enable searchable public access to the extensive multi-agency data related to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.